Intel to further combine CPU, GPU components, support Blu-Ray 3D playback in future notebook chips

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Date: Friday, August 27th, 2010, 06:47
Category: News, Processors

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It’s hard to say when this might find its way into an Apple notebook, but it could be amazing when it does.

Processor giant Intel announced that its next-generation laptop chips will have a dozen new features to improve graphics performance and will be able to play Blu-ray 3D movies, the company said on Thursday.

Laptops with processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture will play Blu-ray 3D movies while preserving battery life, said Nick Knupffer, an Intel spokesman. Users won’t need to buy a separate graphics processor to specifically view 3D content.

Sandy Bridge chips are due to go into production later this year, Knupffer said. Company officials have said that PCs with the new chips could hit store shelves in the first half of next year.

Per Macworld, the company is expected to shed more light on Sandy Bridge’s graphics performance at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco from September 13th through the 15th.

Intel for the first time will integrate the CPU and graphics processor on a single chip, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64. The current generation of chips based on the Westmere architecture have the CPU and graphics core on one piece of silicon, but as separate units.

The higher levels of integration will also help Intel include additional transistors to improve graphics performance, Brookwood said. The Sandy Bridge CPUs and GPUs will be made using the 32-nanometer process, while with current chips, the CPU and GPU are made using the 32-nm process and the 45-nm process, respectively.

Graphics performance typically doubles from one chip generation to the next, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

Intel’s current laptop chips are capable of 1080p video, and improvements in Sandy Bridge chips could bring a noticeable graphics improvement to PCs, McCarron said.

Now it remains to be seen what Apple has to say about Blu-Ray support and how this might be integrated into future generations of Apple laptops…

Apple confirms September 1st press event

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Date: Thursday, August 26th, 2010, 04:52
Category: iPad, iPod, News, Software

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Apple has confirmed that the company will be holding a press event on September 1st for what’s likely to be a debut of new products and services. Per Macworld UK, the invite did not provide details of the event, simply giving the date and time accompanying a photo of a guitar with an apple shaped sound hole.

Apple has traditionally made new iPod product announcements in September. Rumors have been kicking around for a while about the possibility of an iPod Touch with a forward and rear facing camera. A forward-facing camera would allow the iPods to use FaceTime over Wi-Fi and new cameras could also offer support for Apple’s iMovie software, allowing video editing directly on the fly. Apple’s new high-contrast retina display, is also a possibility for new iPods.

At least a few iTunes announcements seem likely for the September 1st event. Last month rumors circulated that the newest version of iTunes would offer support for wireless iTunes streaming and syncing, and Apple quietly added the ability to stream music from MobileMe folders in its latest update. The MobileMe audio streaming feature could have been a test run of a larger iTunes plan.

Rumors have been swirling for the past few weeks about the possibility of US$.99 TV show rentals from iTunes. Currently iTunes only allows shows to be purchased for US$1.99 a pop, the rumored US$.99 rental would instead be good for just a few days. The cheaper price tag may however encourage more people to purchase the commercial free shows than currently, providing them an alternative to Hulu and other streaming sites that won’t break the bank.

While the picture of a guitar is a bit of a stretch for an event to unveil a new version of Apple TV, that doesn’t mean that Apple TV won’t be a part of the announcement, although it is likely it won’t be a focus for the event. A new version of Apple TV called iTV is rumored to have 16GB of flash storage, the ability to run iOS-based applications, and the ability to stream iTunes to iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches over WiFi. The iTV was at one point also expected to offer a TV subscription service, although those plans are thought to have been changed.

Finally, the announcement of a smaller iPad is not entirely out of the question. The announcement of a new version of the device in September would make it available before the holiday season, helping to potentially boost sales come gift giving time.

Either way, it’s all speculation. Stay tuned for September 1st when we provide every bit of information on the new products that we can prior to giving all of our readers a free pony.

China Unicom expected to offer free cases with iPhone 4 launch

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Date: Wednesday, August 25th, 2010, 03:49
Category: iPhone, News

When in doubt, provide a useful free gift.

Per Caixin, when the iPhone 4 launches in China on September 16th, carrier China Unicom is expected to give every customer a free case as a preemptive strike against the antenna concerns that caused a stir in the U.S.

In July, after reports of antenna issues with the iPhone 4 reached a deafening buzz in the tech community, Apple announced it would give away free cases to all iPhone 4 purchases made through Sept. 30. Customers can order their free case through the iPhone 4 Case Program App Store software.

The report did not indicate whether China Unicom’s complimentary case will be mailed after the purchase, or made available to the customer when they buy their iPhone 4.

Earlier this month, a Wi-Fi-enabled 8GB iPhone 3GS was released by China Unicom. Apple’s previous phones sold legitimately in the nation of over one billion did not have Wi-Fi, because the Chinese government had temporarily banned the technology.

Following the launch of the iPhone 4, China Unicom is expected to soon offer Apple’s iPad for sale.

Apple releases Security Update 2010-06 for Mac OS X 10.5.x, 10.6.x users

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Date: Wednesday, August 25th, 2010, 03:28
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released Security Update 2010-05 for Mac OS X 10.5.x and Mac OS X 10.6.x. The update, a which ranges between 80.6 and over an over 400 megabyte download, adds a slew of security fixes and changes, as summarized here.

More specifically, the update addresses a “heap buffer overflow” in the way CoreGraphics handles PDF files. The vulnerability could allow “unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution” through a malicious PDF file as well as a “stack buffer overflow” that would allow arbitrary code execution through a malicious embedded font. Both the PDF and the font vulnerabilities are fixed through “improved bounds checking.”

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 on the Mac OS X 10.5 end and Mac OS X 10.6.4 on the Mac OS X end to install and run and can be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, let us know.

Analyst points out advantages of iPhone on Verizon network, highlights Apple/Verizon negotiations in progress

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Date: Tuesday, August 24th, 2010, 04:24
Category: iPhone, News

It’s the rumor that never dies, but this time it could be garnering additional strength and credence.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Shaw Wu with Kaufman Brothers indicated that a deal between Apple and Verizon is being ironed out. The analyst went on to state that he expects Apple to expand the iPhone to another carrier in the U.S. next year. Apple needs this, he said, to maintain high growth, as the company’s smartphone nears saturation on the AT&T network.

The current front-runner is Verizon, which is said to be in talks with Apple for a “SVDO” iPhone which would allow both voice and data at the same time, something not possible with a traditional CDMA phone on Verizon’s network.

While Wu believes that the iPhone will eventually come to Verizon, that could happen as late as 2012, he said, if Apple decided instead to go another route: both T-Mobile and Sprint.

“It is notable that signing up both T-Mobile USA and Sprint would almost be the equivalent of Verizon (in terms of subscribers),” he said. “For point of reference, AT&T has 90 million wireless subscribers compared to 93 million at Verizon, 48 million at Sprint, and 34 million at T-Mobile USA.”

Wu said sources have indicated to him that important details are still being ironed out between Verizon and Apple, including technology and economics. But while the companies are in talks, he said it would be “premature” to rule out T-Mobile and Sprint.

However, the growth of Android on the Verizon network also provides Apple with an incentive to make the iPhone available on the carrier, he said. Making the iPhone available to Verizon customers would be the best way to address the growing presence of Android phones, Wu wrote.

While Apple and Verizon are said to be eying SVDO for the iPhone for now, the companies are said to be viewing that option as an interim device until a full-fledged long-term evolution (LTE) 4G phone debuts in a few years.

“From AAPL’s perspective, the debate is whether it makes sense to roll out an interim CDMA iPhone sometime in 2011 or perhaps wait until LTE becomes more available in 2012,” Wu wrote.

Stay tuned for additional details as we get them.

Rumor: China Unicom to launch iPhone 4 on September 16th

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Date: Tuesday, August 24th, 2010, 04:19
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Wireless carrier China Unicom may officially launch the iPhone 4 on September 16th, a local source claims. While the carrier is generally believed to have set plans in motion, it has yet to formally announce details. A launch on the 16th would come just a little over a month after the availability of the first Wi-Fi-equipped Chinese iPhones.

Per Caixin Online, the source mentions some other information about the launch. In order to get an iPhone 4, people may be required to order online in advance. The Chinese model is also expected to suffer from the same reception problems as other versions, but Unicom will allegedly be offering cases as free gifts. In other countries free cases will cease to be available for iPhone 4s bought after September 30th, barring an extension from Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

New photos surface, point towards forward-facing camera in upcoming iPod touch

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Date: Monday, August 23rd, 2010, 05:27
Category: iPod Touch, Pictures, Rumor

Photos of another front panel claimed to be a component for Apple’s forthcoming fourth-generation iPod touch has surfaced online, again showing a space for a front-facing camera.

According to MIC gadget from parts site taobao.com, the component pictureshows a hole above the LCD display that would allow for a forward-facing camera.

Like the last part pictured, the purported iPod touch front panel is labeled “Apple (c) 2010.” It is being sold for 650 Chinese Yuan, or US$95.

The photos provide more evidence for the assumption that the upcoming iPod touch refresh, expected to be unveiled at Apple’s annual media-centric event in September, will sport two cameras like the iPhone 4. The fourth-generation iPod touch is rumored to become the second device from Apple to support the open FaceTime standard for video chat.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said earlier this summer that his company will ship tens of millions of devices compatible with FaceTime this year alone. Currently, only the iPhone 4 is capable of making FaceTime video chat calls over Wi-Fi.

While the iPod touch lacks a phone number to allow people to connect for a FaceTime call, beta releases of iOS 4.1 show that the media player will identify users by their e-mail address.

Apple files patent for iOS device “kill switch” technology

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Date: Monday, August 23rd, 2010, 05:45
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News

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An Apple patent application filed earlier this year could allow the company to more directly interact with jailbroken iOS-based devices such as iPhones, iPod touches and iPads.

Per CNET, Apple’s patent ‘Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device,’ includes a remote “kill switch” that could quickly restore an iPhone, iPod or iPad to its factory settings.

Along with the potential to restore factory settings, Apple also intends to send warnings to owners via email or text message when such activity as “hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card.” is detected CNET adds.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple testing NFC-enabled iPhones to use as mobile payment devices

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Date: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, 06:28
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Following news that Apple recently hired an expert on near field communications, a new rumor suggests that the company is already testing a prototype iPhone that could be used for short-range wireless activities such as making in-store transactions.

Citing anonymous sources close to the store, web site TechCrunch reported Tuesdsay that Apple has already built NFC-enabled iPhone prototypes using hardware from NXP Semiconductor. The report alleged that Apple is already testing mobile payments for use in a future iPhone.

“The existence of prototypes would almost surely suggest that Apple will include NFC in iPhone 5, or whatever Apple decides to call its next iPhone,” author Steve Cheney wrote. The report also speculates that NFC could be used for high-speed wireless data transfers and proximity-based features between compatible Apple devices.

On Monday, it was revealed that Apple hired Benjamin Vigier, who has been working with NFC technology since 2004. His previous role was project manager for mobile wallet, payment and NFC at mFoundry, a company that specializes in mobile payments.

Support for RFID or a number of other NFC technologies could allow a variety of “touchless” technologies, ranging from swipe payments where an iPhone could be used to pay for items at checkout, or sensing of information from kiosks and objects.

Apple’s interest in NFC is well established and has turned up in numerous patent applications filed by the company. A recent filing from July described a system that would allow users to rely on NFC functionality in the iPhone to research products and quickly find helpful information, such as an instruction manual.

Last year, reports suggested that Apple had tested Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, in prototype iPhones. The technology allows a device to sense embedded chips in nearby objects without making direct contact or without using visible light, like a barcode reader.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Snow Leopard Graphics Update 1.0

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Date: Tuesday, August 17th, 2010, 14:14
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released its Snow Leopard Graphics Update 1.0 patch. The update, a 65.7 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Addresses frame rate issues occurring in Portal and Team Fortress 2 by Valve, on iMac (Late 2009 and Mid 2010), Mac mini (Early 2009 and Mid 2010), Mac Pro (Early 2009), MacBook (Early 2009 and Mid 2010) and MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) or MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010) models.

- Resolves an issue that could cause Aperture 3, or StarCraft II by Blizzard, to unexpectedly quit or become unresponsive.

- Resolves an image corruption issue that may occur when disconnecting and reconnecting external displays while the system is running.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know.